Last week, I shared my story and reasons for why I choose to ditch the pill. If you missed that post, click here to read all the details.
When I quit the pill, my biggest worry was that my skin would become a disaster. I had no idea what would happen and I sure didn’t want painful cysts. I didn’t want to go through the influx of emotions either and cysts definitely wouldn’t bring feelings of calm.
Looking back my skin did break out some, but nothing insane. I kept focused on my diet, but I was already at a place where eating inflammatory foods just wasn’t the norm. Sugar was my biggest enemy and that wasn’t anything new. I knew that my body had a lot of gut healing work to do so I just trusted the process. I knew patience was key because I didn’t get to where I was at overnight so it wouldn’t fix itself overnight either.
But what I DIDN’T expect was my period not coming back. I talked to my doctor and she told me 3-6 months without a period is common post-pill. She told me it takes time for the body to re-adjust and start creating the signal to make hormones again. I didn’t waste time worrying about it and just continued to be patient and focus on healing.
While I was waiting around, I became obsessed with learning everything I could about hormonal health especially concerning post-pill. Through all my research one idea kept popping up for me. Post- Pill Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. This occurs when the hypothalamus isn’t sending the signal to create hormones for your body. It is the way to protect our body from reproducing because your body doesn’t feel safe due to low-body fat, not eating enough, high-stress, or just not enough nutrition. It typically occurs in women with lower body fat, eating disorder past, over-exerciser, post-pill and/or other types of stress. Over and over I read articles about HA, but I was convinced there was no way this could be my situation. The cure for HA is to 1) Eat a lot more food especially carbs and fat. 2) Reduce Exercise. My body fat percentage was not on the low end (22%), my weight was at one of the higher points in my life. (I wasn’t a size 2 anymore). I felt like my pants were always getting too tight and my thighs constantly growing. Instead, I tried to convince myself I had PCOS and that was why my period wasn’t showing up. I did acknowledge though that I did have a past of under eating and overexercising, but still didn’t see how that was relevant at this point.
I focused on eating lower carb, no sugar, no coffee because this is what is recommended for PCOS and general hormonal health. I would skip meals if I was bloated and eat chia seed pudding or collagen shakes that were never enough to keep me full. I was light headed and bloated and never had enough energy to go the gym after work. I physically felt like I had to eat less because I sat around all day and wasn’t expending much energy.
Then one day I had to get real with myself – all the knowledge I had gained up to that point, lead me to rethink what I was doing. My dizziness was a real problem and I was tired of it. My period was still nowhere to be found. It had been over 14 months and nothing. So I decided to try to this eat more food idea to jump start my period. I thought “What is the worst that could happen? I gain 5 lbs?? I knew I wouldn’t gain weight overnight so I decided to just go for it! I ate way more food. I poured on the carbs. I ate lots of square bars. I let myself eat whatever that I typically made myself feel “guilty” for eating. I tried my best to stop worrying about food and my body. I even started drinking coffee again. Mentally, it was hard to do. I bought bigger pants because I knew I would gain some weight and I didn’t want to feel stress about my pants being uncomfortable.
After a couple months, my period came!! I was very excited and pleased with my progress of being on the right track. But it went away and didn’t come back for another few months. And then it went away…. Even though it wasn’t arriving every month, I knew this eating more food plan was working and I was on the right track. By this time, I started using my FloLiving app so I could get an idea of when I could expect my next period. I wanted to try to cycle sync as much as possible even if the phases were really long. I was very patient and consistent. And then after a full 8 months of eating more food it came again!! And this time for good! Month after month it showed up. It was a bit all over the place when it first came ranging from 14 days – 28 days or longer. But I tracked it in my app every month so I would know how long I was in-between cycles and to see if it was consistent. Recently after reviewing the app, I was blown away. ? My period had come EXACTLY every 21 days for over 4 months now. I can now look at a calendar and I KNOW the exact day my period will come. Wow. Something I never thought my body could do. I had believed my whole life that a consistent period would never be a part of my life. : 0 I still cannot believe it!
Looking back, I can say that without a doubt eating more carbs, more fat, and more food is what helped me to get my period back. I had all the other pieces in place for balanced hormones. But my focus on becoming leaner was distracting me from the real focus of healing my body. I want to premise this by saying that I didn’t just add in a bunch of junk foods. (which I do eat from time to time) Mostly my food intake would include: 2-3 servings of gf oatmeal coated in healthy fat, multiple square bars, lots of fresh fruit, multiple avocados, sweet potatoes, etc. Why did this work? Eating more carbs and more fat are imperative for our body to make hormones. Carbs are easily convertible energy for the body and signal to your hypothalamus that you are safe because you have consistent energy source available. Fat is necessary ingredient for our body to create the actual hormones. So cool huh??
It has been about a year since deciding to eat more food and my body did change some. I only gained about 3-5 lbs through all of this and that was a minimal sacrifice to get my period back consistently.
But eating more food also brought other benefits. I have a lot more energy and I feel a lot more freedom around food. I don’t know the last time I binged on sugar…something that was a regular occurrence at holidays or on the weekend to help myself “relax”. I don’t get as cold as often either! Do I feel 100% comfortable in my body? No but it is always a work in progress and a part of my journey as I continually heal my gut to work on my bloating and keep my hormones balanced. ?
Even if you don’t have HA or will ever struggle with it, I challenge you to look at how much you are eating and your mindset around food.
We live in a world that focuses heavily on counting calories and eating less fat and less carbs. So many women are concerned about eating too much. For the average women, I think we need to worry about eating too little especially because it so ingrained in us that we need to be smaller or tighter.
***Note*** Everyone’s body is different, this is just what worked for me and my personal experience. Recently, I shared a post about how I love carbs which you can read here. Many women have to significantly reduce exercise and coffee when healing with HA, I didn’t have a problem with overdoing either of these at this point in my life so I didn’t have to drastically reduce exercise or coffee which is crucial for many women.
If you are interested in reading a few other stories of women with HA, I will link to a few of those who have inspired me. 🙂
Eating Bird Food – Not only are Brittany’s recipes drool-worthy, but she has a great story of how she healed from HA.
Urban Jane – I recently found her blog and I LOVE it. Her story is very inspiring and its a great message that needs to be shared.
I hope this post inspired you! Post a comment below and let me know your thoughts! <3
Have a beautiful weekend! 🙂